E had her 1 year immunisations today. Dealt with it like a boss, as she had with all of her previous ones too. Probably due to the fact she got poked and jabbed every day for her first 7 weeks of life. It got me thinking - there ARE positives of prematurity, you just have to look hard enough. Sometimes it is impossible to see any positivity from the experience, but some days I do see it and feel it. So here are my positives, I'd love to hear of others. Drop me a message.
I have a group of women by my side who I am bonded to for life. I didn't even know these women 14 months ago, and I can't say I know them extremely well even now, but we went through the worst possible times together, side by side. We didn't even really speak back then, but we didn't have to. We felt everything the other felt. The pain, the heartbreak, the frustration, the anger, the massive highs followed by your world crashing down the next day. We felt all of that, on a daily basis and we felt it together. A look, a tear, a sigh, and we were right there feeling the same. And now we are out the other side we chat about milestones and delayed development, terrifying winter colds, consultant appointments, PTSD and our aversion for pregnant women. All of those things that 'normal' people simply cannot get their head around.
I am in total awe of my daughter. Every. Single. Day. At least once a day I look at her and I just cannot believe she is here and well. I have worked with unwell adults for 16 years, and I can honestly say if an adult had to deal with everything E had dealt with they would probably no longer be here, or they would be on an abundance of medication every day. When friends and acquaintances with term babies are frustrated with sleep deprivation, and second guessing every new 'behaviour' of their child ('must be a leap') I have just loved pretty much every minute since E came home. Of course I am human and I have had days where I have been frustrated with E too - although I can quite honestly count these times on one hand. When you have faced the very real possibility that your baby may not survive the night it makes you a different parent, it must do, although I can only speak from my own experience and E being my only child. What I know for sure is that prematurity really makes you thankful beyond belief.
We have celebrated every tiny milestone and some. From the moment she started following with her eyes we were thankful that that bit of her brain worked, and so on, and so forth;
'DAVE!!!!!! LOOK! she can follow!!!! She's FOLLOWING look!!!!!!!'.... (While squeaking the toy so ferociously I nearly dislocated my finger).
'The 'social smile' was extremely long awaited - so when it came at 18 weeks old we breathed a huge sigh of relief. In fact, she was still only 7 weeks corrected at that point so in fact she was right on track! And she pretty much has been ever since, with the exception of a little speech delay. This is fine though as I'm absolutely sure that once she starts we will never shut her up - so waiting a little longer for that elusive first 'mummy' is not an issue, (of course she has 'daddy' off to a fine art - typical!) When I was pregnant - before prematurity was ever on my radar, I just assumed I would have a baby who would smile, one day crawl, one day walk, talk, read, go to school and smash it! So when you are told to be aware that some, maybe even all of these things may never happen then of course every single tiny thing is a huge cause of celebration. Now we have no doubt that this little munchkin will probably be ruling the world one day - so god help us all!!!
E has always been extremely chilled out. While I'm told over and over that it is because I have always been so relaxed with her, I do think that NICU has a huge part to play in this too. She will go to anyone - that is because she had no choice to begin with, she has unfortunately not been by my side since she was born. She sleeps well, and she sleeps anywhere regardless of background noise - this is because she slept through all kinds of hospital noise for the first 7 weeks of her life. She has never had a dummy - I'm sure this is because she knows it as a teaching tool therefore it was not going to be used as a comforter! (a dummy is used in NICU to teach the suck reflex, this reflex does not begin until the 32nd week of pregnancy - so many premature babies have to learn this skill).
We have been so well supported as a family by the NHS. Neonatologists, neurology consultants, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, orthopaedics, counsellors and our GP. Really does make up for the poor antenatal care and my hilariously bad health visitor.
And most importantly..........I have never purchased a box of formula!!!!!!!! (it's a joke - don't troll me!!!!)
Big high five to all my NICU mummies and the awesomer babies xxx